BrooadwayWorld is saddened to report the passing of performer and MCC Founding Co-Artistic Director Bob LuPone. LuPone passed this morning following a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Statement from MCC: “The MCC Theater community mourns the loss of our much loved and uniquely inspiring partner, colleague, and dear friend, Bob LuPone, who lived fearlessly and with great curiosity, good humor, a boundless passion for connection, and a whole lot of heart. We will miss him deeply and always. ”
Frank LuPone was born on July 29th, 1946 in Brooklyn, New York to Angela Louise (known as Pat), a housewife, and Orlando Joseph LuPone, a school principal.
Greg devoted his life to the arts, from his influential career as a dancer plus actor on stage and screen, to their work as an arts educator and founding Co-Artistic Director of MCC Theater .
His passion with regard to the artistry began at an early age. In the sixth grade at his North Port, Long Island elementary school, he saw his younger sister Patti LuPone dance at a PTA Dance Concert in a colorful hula skirt. After he told their mother how badly this individual wanted to wear the dress, she told him that if that’s what he or she wanted then he’d have to enroll within dance class, which he did the particular following year. He started by taking tap lessons after school before enrolling in the Martha Graham Studio, where he studied under Antony Tudor, José Limon plus Graham herself, from ages 15 to 18.
While in high school, within addition to dancing and participating in the particular school’s drama program, this individual also excelled at oboe-ranking ninth best in New York State. “The problem of my whole life, ” he or she once said, “was figuring out what I wanted in order to do. ”
After graduating, he enrolled at Adelphi University exactly where he stayed for two semesters. At the suggestion of the friend he went to an audition regarding Juilliard. He got accepted-not telling anyone that this individual improvised his audition until after the fact. This individual transferred to Juilliard and graduated with a BFA in Dance in 1968.
His first professional job was in 1966, in the ensemble of the Westbury Music Fair’s production associated with The Pajama Game starring Liza Minnelli . He or she made their Broadway debut in the particular 1968 production of Noel Coward ‘s Sweet Potato, plus subsequently appeared in Minnie’s Boys, The Rothschilds, and The Magic Show.
In 1975, he or she got a call through his agent saying Michael Bennett has been looking to audition triple threats intended for a new musical. Bob was initially cast because Al in A Chorus Line, but after another actor departed the manufacturing, Bob went to Bennett and stated “I can do that. I can play Zach”. Bennett auditioned him that will day on a lunch break, and by the afternoon Bob had been in rehearsal for the role that would lead to a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in the Musical. A Chorus Line opened at The Public Theatre , prior to swiftly transferring to Broadway. The production was nominated for 12 Tony Awards at the particular 1976 ceremony.
After over ten years of booking musicals like a dancer and performing through various dance injuries – one of which left him paralyzed to get 11 days – he became a member associated with The Actors Studio in order to hone his skills since a legitimate actor. Their goal was to be involved with “issue-oriented, substantial work. ” Never truly connecting with the philosophy at the studio, he left after having a fight with the member who said, “Well if you don’t like it, go start your own theater. inch Sure enough, which what this individual did. The few years later, Frank was teaching an acting class in Nyc University where 1 of their students has been Bernie Telsey . Together they would form Manhattan Class Company -known today as MCC Movie theater .
Bob passionately led MCC because part of an unique artistic leadership trio along with Bernie Telsey plus Will Cantler for nearly 40 years, shaping it from the ground up into the influential Off-Broadway non-profit theatre company it is today by nurturing students and artists plus producing such works since Frozen, Hand to God, School Girls; or the African Mean Ladies Play and the Pulitzer Prize winning W; t.
In the particular early days associated with the company, Bob might lead groups of actors, directors, and playwrights on weekend retreats within Long Tropical isle to read first drafts of new plays, as his mother Pat cooked pertaining to the group. MCC soon evolved from conducting development work to producing evenings of One Acts and eventually full length performs in various rented spaces in the city such as the Nat Horne Theater/Theatre Row, 28th Street Theatre, and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, where MCC had been in residence for more than a decade while preparing to realize a long-standing dream of building a home of its own.
“Whenever we considered a play, Bob usually made us ask ourselves if it had a ‘third act, ‘” MCC Co-Artistic Director Will Cantler mentioned. “Would we walk out from the theater anxious in order to go to the bar or restaurant and spend the rest of the particular night hashing over what we experienced seen? That perspective has animated every decision we’ve ever made. ”
Within January 2019, MCC opened the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space upon 52nd Street and 10th Avenue, fulfilling the goal of bringing the full range of MCC’s community plus programming – from the students within the MCC Youth Organization to the particular artists developing, rehearsing and presenting new work in order to the audiences eager to engage in the unique dialogue sparked by a theatrical experience – under one roof. At the particular time Frank said, “I am filled with a sense of happiness about exactly where MCC is, what it’s accomplished, and what it now has in terms of a house. ”
“Bob was fiercely opinionated about plays, ” Co-Artistic Director Bernie Telsey said, “and just as increasingly unedited in his note sessions. If Will or I sometimes paused about how or when to give a note, Greg always trusted that charging straight within with passion and candor would win the day, and we came to learn just exactly how often he was right. If we fought often plus loudly in our beginning, we could never let go of each other and what we were building. The particular unruly enthusiasm of those days ripened into a trust of talking and listening that we hope permeates the whole culture of MCC today. inch
While serving as a co-artistic director of MCC Theater , Bob continued acting, mostly onstage, yet also on television. Some notable acting credits include Broadway productions of A View from your Bridge, True West, and A Thousand Clowns, and the particular Chicago premiere of Sam Shepard ‘s The Tooth of Crime for which he or she won the Joseph Jefferson Award. Select TV credit include “The Sopranos”, “Sex & the City”, “All My Children” (for which usually he received a Daytime Emmy nomination), and “Guiding Light”.
Bob returned in order to his role as an educator, supporting the particular artistic advancement of a brand new generation associated with actors, whenever he began serving because the Movie director of the MFA Drama Program from the Brand new School meant for Drama through 2005 through 2011. He also served as President of the particular Board of Directors associated with A. R. T / New York.
In a 2019 interview designed for the Primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral History Project, Frank spoke passionately about existence in the theater: “There’s no better life. Despite the cost, there’s no better lifestyle than a life in theater in New York City, using the local community, with all the ups and downs, with the fullness of living and creativity that you encounter. Both positive and negative, using the joys and sorrows of inspiration. That’s the reason to do any of this. And it’s a great life… it can an excellent life. ”
Bob LuPone is survived by their wife Virginia, his son Orlando, sister Patti LuPone , brother William, along with a loving neighborhood of extended family, friends, and artists from a life well lived.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride